RUNOFF FROM COAL PILES: EFFECTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE PUBLIC'S HEALTH
The use of coal for fuel in place of oil and natural gas has been increasing in the United States. Typically, users store their reserves of coal outdoors in large piles and rainfall on the coal creates runoffs which may contain materials hazardous to the environment and the public's health. To study this hazard, rainfall on model coal piles was simulated, using deionized water and four coals of varying sulfur content. The simulated surface runoffs were collected during 9 rainfall simulations spaced 15 days apart. The runoffs were analyzed for 13 standard water quality parameters, extracted with organic solvents and then analyzed with capillary column GC/MS, and the extracts were tested for mutagenicity with the Ames Salmonella microsomal assay and for clastogenicity with Chinese hamster ovary cells. The runoffs from the high-sulfur coals and the lignite exhibited extremes of pH (acidity), specific conductance, chemical oxygen demand, and total suspended solids; the low-sulfur coal runoffs did not exhibit these extremes. Without treatment, effluents from these high-sulfur coals and lignite would not comply with federal water quality guidelines. Most extracts of the simulated surface runoffs contained at least 10 organic compounds including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, their methyl and ethyl homologs, olefins, paraffins, and some terpenes. The concentrations of these compounds were generally less than 50 (mu)g/l in most extracts. Some of the extracts were weakly mutagenic and affected both a DNA-repair proficient and deficient Salmonella strain. The addition of S9 decreased the effect significantly. Extracts of runoffs from the low-sulfur coal were not mutagenic. All extracts were clastogenic. Extracts of runoffs from the high-sulfur coals were both clastogenic and cytotoxic; those from the low-sulfur coal and the lignite were less clastogenic and not cytotoxic. Clastogenicity occurred with and without S9 activation. Chromosomal lesions included gaps, breaks and exchanges. These data suggest a relationship between the sulfur content of a coal, its mutagenicity and also its clastogenicity. The runoffs from actual coal piles should be investigated for possible genotoxic effects in view of the data presented in this study.
STAHL, RALPH GARNER, "RUNOFF FROM COAL PILES: EFFECTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE PUBLIC'S HEALTH" (1982). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8316539.